This week, an unlikely romance is blossoming in Hellboy In Love, a new five-issue series launching tomorrow from Dark Horse Comics. Given the romantic implications of the series, created by Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden, Matt Smith, Chris O’Halloran, and Clem Robins, the series naturally deserves a playlist.
But wait, what’s Hellboy in Love about?
Hellboy has been assigned to protect a shipment of occult artifacts from a gang of thieving goblins. The artifacts are being transported by train to the British Museum by archaeologist Anastasia Bransfield, and she’s not going to let them go without a fight! Rather than stay behind, she teams up with Hellboy to chase the light-fingered fey through the British countryside and into . . . a local punk show?
Check out the playlist and the commentary on each song from creators Matt Smith, Clem Robbins, and Chris O’Halloran below!
Matt Smith’s picks:
I’m almost always listening to music while drawing. Songs can be great for energy, focus or inspiration. In general music helps the hours go by at work. The thought then came up that it might be fun to have people working on Hellboy in Love share some of their favorite love songs. Not every great song can be about ancient mariners and the devil, some of them are going to be about love. Here are a handful I like.
“Love Dust” – Luna
Nice song to kick off the playlist and wish the best for our couple. They’re going to need it.
“Just What I Needed” – The Cars
Gotta go with a Boston band in the list of course and the sentiment seems right on for our man Hellboy.
“I Hope You Die” – Molly Nilsson
Deceptively dark title for what is a sweet song.
“Fools in Love” – Joe Jackson
Are there any other kind of lovers?
“Space Age Lovesong” – Flock of Seagulls
Flock of Seagulls started in ’79 like the year our story is set in–I guess that’s a connection? I just dig the new wave sound here.
“I’ve Been Waiting For You” – Pixies (Neil Young cover)
I wanted Head to Toe by the Breeders but it’s not on Spotify. We’ll get one of the Deal sisters in this playlist anyway. That’s two Boston bands now, not that I’m counting. Two!
“What Part of Me” – Low
Alan and Mimi’s harmonizing is always gorgeous. Could have chosen many Low songs.
“Kiss” – Scout Niblet
Another sweet duet following Low. (FYI, Scout recorded a cool cover of Just What I Needed)
“Namesake Feature” – My New Mixtape
Hey, I know these guys. Even lovelier in real life than their recorded loveliness which is already pretty lovely.
“My Little Corner of the World” – Yo La Tengo
I’m overusing this word even in a list of love songs, but what can you say about this song other than it’s very sweet.
“Too Good To Be True” – Kelly Stoltz
Song about a relationship everyone doubts will work out. For our couple those doubters could be stuffy academic colleagues or maybe other demons or stuffy academic demons (the worst).
“Morphine” – Let’s Take a Trip Together
Morphine. Great song. Great Boston band. Not that’s why I put them in the list, though. Not for a third song by a Boston band. Certainly not.
Clem Robbins’ picks:
Possibly you’ll notice that one thing all of these songs have in common is that none are newer than 33 years old. In the late 1980s I was a deejay on an alternative radio station in Boise, and cultivated a love for oddball music. In the years since I’ve grown less interested in music. So this all is weighted down by the obscure and the old. What the hell, for whatever it’s worth, these are love songs that I like. And after twenty years association with Hellboy, I think he’d like these, too.
“Follow You All Over the World” by Marti Jones
Marti never hit the big time, but this 1985 opus brings her concertgoers to tears every time. It might even have that effect on you.
“This Can’t Be Love” by Rodgers and Hart from The Boys from Syracuse
Compared to the love songs of the 1930’s, modern songwriting is sentimental and syrupy. Lorenz Hart wasn’t one to paint a smiley face on the most complex of human emotions. Listen, you’ll probably learn something, or anyway, you might recognize a few of your own life’s misadventures.
“Absolutely Sweet Marie” by Bob Dylan
I certainly don’t want to start any fights here, so I will not mention that Bob has not recorded a single good song since Blonde on Blonde, the 1966 album that featured this opus. No problem. The seven albums he did in the full burst of his brilliance were enough for a hundred mortal men. Count the measures in the harmonica solo that forms a bridge in this song. It’s either 23 or 24. I’m not sure.
“Earn Enough for Us” by XTC
A New Wave song about love, family and commitment. The subject’s never gotten a more sober treatment than it gets here, the story of a man who just wants to take care of his family, even if it costs him every dream he’s ever had.
“Steady with the Maestro” by The Roches
Nobody could do deadpan quite like the Roche sisters. Here’s a description of modern love that sounds more modern than ever, forty years after its release on The Roches’ magnum opus Keep On Doing, one of the very best albums of the 1980s.
“I Hold Your Hand in Mine” by Tom Lehrer
If you weren’t raised on Mr. Lehrer’s albums, that probably explains your being far more psychologically well-adjusted than I am. Lehrer, eternally fixated with insanity and death, still managed to write a few love songs. Here’s one that he says he gets the most requests not to perform.
“Rituals” by Christine Lavin
Lavin, the dean of NYC-based female folkies, can be sarcastic with the best of ‘em. But here is her plea for those interested in long-haul love to slow down and take the time to build something that will last, as her own parents chose to do. She makes a pretty good case for it at that.
“Oh Happy We” by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, from Candide
Their 1957 take on Voltaire knocks down pretty much every sacred cow regarding love, family, religion and society, leaving our heroes no option except to attempt to cultivate their garden.
“It’s Only Love” by the Beatles
Lennon didn’t think much of this song, but that was his problem. Of all the love songs left us by the Fab Four, this one speaks the most honestly about two people tearing each other into shreds without intending to. McCartney wrote prettier tunes (see below), but in terms of what love actually is like, Sir Paul may well never have reached puberty.
“Because” by the Dave Clark Five
A sweet snapshot of a much more innocent time in human history, by the single most underrated band of the British Invasion.
“Always True to You in My Fashion” by Cole Porter, from Kiss Me Kate
Love can be a matter of compromise and venality, as you’ll hear over the course of eleven verses and a bridge. Porter was so good, he’d stuff the worst rhymes in the history of the spoken word into every stanza, and it all sounded like it was graven on stone tablets.
“Dead Girl Medley” by Steve Goodman
We lost Goodman far too early, somewhat like the teenage popsicles struck down in their prime in this collection of 1960s love songs. He covers “Teen Angel,” “Tell Laura I Loved Her” and “A Gory Story,” complete with running commentary. The world will soon forget our snuffed heroines, but it is a vastly poorer place without Goodman.
“Pretty Ballerina” by The Left Banke
Maybe a little too self important, but if you can listen to it and not recall every woman who outclassed you to the point of absurdity, you’ve probably got considerably more class than I ever had.
“Things We Said Today” by The Beatles
As pretty a tune as the lovable moptops ever gave us, but do yourself a favor and don’t try to make sense of the lyrics. Remember what I said about McCartney? He’s eighty now, and still has not reached puberty.
Chris O’Halloran’s picks:
“Baby I love you” – Ramones
An infectious cover by the original punks. Not what they’re known for (maybe it’s all the strings) but Joey’s more subdued delivery sells it as more heartfelt than it might have been.
“You Make Lovin Fun” – Fleetwood Mac
Boogie on down. Another smirk inducer.
“We’re in this together” – Nine Inch Nails
I almost picked Closer (that’s a love song right?) but there’s something of a genuine classic, over the top in love, until the end of the world sentiment in the song that answers the brief better.
“Breathless” – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Images of frolicking around the countryside with your loved one exude in one of Cave’s more lovely tracks. (See Loverman for more of a Hellboy connective tissue)
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